Ep. 34 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Sacredness: Horror, Music, and the

topic

discussion

my notes

The Numinous

  • Otto: Numinous
  • Before had moral interpretation of holiness there was a pre-moral view of sacredness (or at least an aspect of it)
  • Numinous: close to glorious. God is shiny and overwhelming and powerful. But glory doesn’t have a moral sense.
  • Otto describes numinous as:
    • Mystery: trajectory of transframing
      • Fascinating: compels: supersalient, really grabbing attention, can’t pull away
      • Horror: terrifying, horrifying. Horror =/ deeply startled with fear. Horror is when sense of contact with reality is being challenged, slipping away. Associated with insanity or madness
    • Monster: we often find intercaterogical as horrific. Don’t fit into normal categories. Challenge our grip on the world.
    • Douglas: leviticus, unclean animals are all weird. Argues, ways in which people categorize things, have a certain pattern, when broken, they challenge our grip on the world. Should have interconnection between creatures: shape, locality, locomotion.
    • Ex: we are grossed out if spit in bottle.
    • Violate our core categorical ways of evaluating the world.
    • Often just see it as yucky, but if see it as threatening evokes horror for us
    • Ex: wolfman inter-categorical, vampire ghost inter-categorical

  • Can create significant horror without startle and puncture.
  • Ex: The Shining, realised don’t know what’s going on, suddenly participating in his madness, losing grip on the situation, forces that don’t understand. That’s horror
  • Numinous is super-salient: something like a flow-state, drawn to it. Aspects of horror, shakes structure of our worldview
  • Ex: brush up against the numinous:
    • Driving home, been an accident on the highway. People slowing down. Very dangerous. People feel compelled to slow down. Fascinated by it. Hope to see something horrifying. Hoping to see death. Somehow get a confrontation with this. Can’t look away, but horrified.
    • But something missing. Can’t see death. Can see the fact of death. But won’t actually give them a grip on the mystery of death.
    • Wonder and Awe open us to mystery, but if the mystery is overwhelming, causes us to lose sense or insight understanding. Horror: so fast, overwhelmed so fast, culture shock.
  • Start with something like flow, super-salient, but not in the fact that deeply coupled, but seeking to be deeply coupled. Machinery going faster and faster but not actually getting a grip.
  • There are passages in the bible like this. Getting drawn in. Trying to get what it can’t get - a stable relationship. If its too much can pass into horror.
  • Supposed to have awe for God.
  • Sense that sacredness supposed to take us to the very horizon of our ability to make sense and make meaning of the world. Hope to not take us into horror, but to the boundary between awe and horror -> confrontation -> demand to change who and what we are.
  • Realization that we are ultimately limited, no matter how much we grow we can’t grow enough to encompass the mysteries that we are confronting.
  • Always being a being caught up in relevance realization
  • This is the ultimate framebraking. Trans-frame breaking. Breaking your capacity for framing or at least taking it to the limits. Forced into a trajectory of transframing that’s also acknowledging you are ultimately insufficient.
  • Humiliates you. Humility is the function of horror. Bring you to that state of maximal accommodation, while reminding you that you can never become anything beyond a finite being. Never assume you are more than you can ultimately be.
  • Numinous puts you into contact/confrontation with something much greater than yourself. And that has an existence independent of me and therefore can threaten me.
  • Sacredness ->
    • Worldview attunement -> homes us against horror -> meta assimilation (agent/arena fit together)
    • Numinous -> exposes us, fascinates us with horror -> meta-accomodation
    • Opponent processes
  • Sacredness doing a very powerful higher order RR, pushing the machinery of RR down through all the levels of knowing, existential modes, and then blowing it apart with opponent processing doing powerful higher order RR
  • Seriously playing with machinery of RR -> pushing it to greater and greater development, optimizing it, enhancing it.
  • Deep functionality of sacredness is playing with machinery of RR - trying to create states of mind, states of body, the world, optimizes the machinery of RR. Connectedness.
  • Ex: music is associated with sacredness. It’s not “about” anything. But playing with the machinery of salience landscaping. Flow state. Pivotal way to try and convey and represent the sacred.
  • We have trivialized music. Severed it from its connection to the sacred.
  • Can use something symbolic like music to play with this machinery in a powerfully transformative manner

  • Religions, rich in symbolic machinery

Symbols and Sacredness

  • Symbol original meant: to put two things together.
  • Sign: refers - look through it at something else.
  • Heart is a sign for love.
  • Symbols refer but exemplify. Get you to participate in that to which you refer. Participatory knowing.
  • Ex: kissing someone: not just think of love, but actively participate - serious play with the machinery of the agent/arena relationship to participate in a reciprocal relationship with another human being.
  • Symbols have at their core a metaphor: look through this thing to look at that thing. Sam is a pig. See sam differently. Get an insight into Sam. Act of looking through and seeing this in an important way
  • Metaphor: pervasive and profound
  • Lakeoff/Johnson:
    • don’t realize how much of our cognition being structured by metaphor. Ex: half way through this lecture - as if moving through a space
    • More naturally poetic than we realize
    • Constantly trying to look through one thing at another
    • Criticism: embodied process gets projected up into abstract thought. One of their examples: he attacked my argument. But think that notion of projection is too simplistic: attacking castle and argument aren’t quite the same.Near-synonym doesn’t translate: assault/criticize
    • Not quite projecting, we clearly have a sense of where pointing
  • Why is this important: points to a different way of understanding what the metaphor is doing.
  • Symbols tap into deeper metaphors. More profound metaphors that structure our cognition. Have a bottom up emergence and top down emanation going on in them.
  • Sense in which both sides are interacting in a powerful way
  • Metaphor: hold in mind
    • Ex: justice: we care about justice
    • Need to be able to reflect on it, think about it, contemplate it
    • How do you hold it in mind? What are you doing? May think of a prototypical instance. But when want to reflect on it often evoke a symbol: ex: scales of justice
    • Metaphor: notion of balance. Sword deciding.
    • Allows us to hold justice in mind.

  • Exaptation: Michael Anderson: idea that brain is a self-exaptation machine. Within and without. Ex: tongue exapted for speech, but also has all kinds of side-effects. Can tap into them.
  • A lot of what we see in cognition is circuit re-use.
  • Ex: cerebellum used for balance, but exapted for deeper coordination any area of the brain.